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[259]

It follows that Hood had an opportunity to conduct operations against an adversary of, at the most, only two thirds his own strength in infantry and in cavalry—an opportunity such as had never before been presented to any Confederate general. That he thought his chance a very brilliant one is not remarkable. If he could cut off my retreat or force me to a pitched battle, he had full reason to hope for the most decisive results. This fact should be given full weight in connection with the question why Hood did not avoid intrenched positions and make a raid into Kentucky, which he could easily have done at that time, because Thomas was not yet ready to meet him in the open field. The moral effect of such a raid would, of course, have been very great; but it must have proved disastrous in the end, for the reason that Thomas would in a short time have had in Hood's rear a far superior force to cut off his retreat and force him to a decisive battle; whereas if Hood could defeat and seriously cripple, if not destroy, the only organized army in the field then opposed to him, he could afterward attend to Thomas's scattered detachments in succession, or invade Kentucky, as he might think expedient. As Hood was operating in the country of his own friends, he did not lack full and accurate information of the strength and movements of his adversary. Indeed, we were also fully informed in due time of all of Hood's movements, but overestimated his strength because we did not have friends residing in his camps.

But the defeat of Hood at Franklin, and Thomas's concentration of troops at Nashville, completely reversed the situation. When Hood recovered from the blow received at Franklin sufficiently to make any further move, he found himself confronted no longer by an inferior force, but by one of more than twice his own strength in infantry, and not far, if at all, inferior to him in cavalry. The artillery in the field is not specially considered

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